An Israeli comment published today in Haaretz newspaper on the just-concluded visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice:
“For yet another time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Jerusalem and Ramallah yesterday, holding the ritual meetings with the Israeli leadership and the heads of the Palestinian Authority. A look back at the Bush presidency leads to the conclusion that despite his genuine wish to further Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, he has failed. From January 2001 the conflict has undergone many upheavals, but the American contribution to settling it has been minimal in practice. The superpower’s bargaining power vis-a-vis the Israelis and Palestinians has not been used wisely. Ideology lies behind this: The U.S. administration believes its role is to encourage Israel and the PA to reach an agreement and contribute to creating the conditions for the change to take place. But it does not believe in forcing its views on the two sides. This is an enlightened, pleasant approach, but in the Mideast jungle it is terribly out of place. In an era when Israel needs the FBI to crack its homegrown organized crime, the United States can stress more forcefully, both to Israelis and Palestinians, their dependency – in order to shake them out of the status quo … Israel refuses to relinquish its hold over the West Bank. To a significant extent this determines the conflict’s current status. This was blatantly highlighted this week: According to a Peace Now report, settlement construction doubled in the first five months of the year compared to the same period last year. The Bush administration is not exempt of responsibility for this”.
The full comment can be read in Haaretz here.